The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication

The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication

by Heather Horst, Daniel Miller
     
 

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Few modern innovations have spread quite so quickly as the cell phone. This technology has transformed communication throughout the world. Mobile telecommunications have had a dramatic effect in many regions, but perhaps nowhere more than for low-income populations in countries such as Jamaica, where in the last few years many people have moved from no phone to cell…  See more details below

Overview

Few modern innovations have spread quite so quickly as the cell phone. This technology has transformed communication throughout the world. Mobile telecommunications have had a dramatic effect in many regions, but perhaps nowhere more than for low-income populations in countries such as Jamaica, where in the last few years many people have moved from no phone to cell phone. This book reveals the central role of communication in helping low-income households cope with poverty. The book traces the impact of the cell phone from personal issues of loneliness and depression to the global concerns of the modern economy and the transnational family. As the technology of social networking, the cell phone has become central to establishing and maintaining relationships in areas from religion to love. The Cell Phone presents the first detailed ethnography of the impact of this new technology through the exploration of the cell phone's role in everyday lives.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The authors achieve an impressive synthesis of diverse literatures that is remarkably readable. The book questions a number of widespread assumptions about the apocalyptic impact of mobile phones and ultimately represents a wider discussion on the experience of poverty, communication and the anthropology of communication.” —Mirca Madianou, Cambridge University

“Horst and Miller give a dazzling display of new and innovative methods, combined with sophisticated use of anthropological theory. The writing is engaging and the descriptions of people and places are vivid, making this a wonderful resource for teaching. It will have a broad appeal in many disciplines, and any reader interested in new technologies will find surprises here.” —Richard Wilk, Indiana University

The Cell Phone opens up a vital new space of inquiry for mobile society research, demanding that we attend to the diversity in uptake of a new communications technology. Through richly textured ethnographic detail, this book tells the story of how the cell phone has come to play a critical and transformative role in the lives of low income Jamaicans. In the process, the meaning of the technology and our understanding of it is also transformed.” —Mimi Ito, Annenberg Center for Communication

“What kind of an object does the cell phone become in the hands of low income Jamaicans? In this insightful study, Horst and Miller explore what it means when the phone's leading attribute is less its mobility, or the mobility that it enables, than the possibility of intensifying connections already in play. Conjoining close place-based ethnography with broad historical, political and economic contextualizations, this book further challenges simple stories of a technology's 'global impacts.” —Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University

“In this brilliant account of cell phone use among low-income people in Jamaica, anthropologists Horst and Miller demonstrate the critically important contributions that anthropology can make the communication studies…indispensable reading for the anthropology of communication and the anthropology of policy.” —A. Arno, Choice

Cambridge University Mirca Madianou

The authors achieve an impressive synthesis of diverse literatures that is remarkably readable. The book questions a number of widespread assumptions about the apocalyptic impact of mobile phones and ultimately represents a wider discussion on the experience of poverty, communication and the anthropology of communication.
Indiana University Richard Wilk

Horst and Miller give a dazzling display of new and innovative methods, combined with sophisticated use of anthropological theory. The writing is engaging and the descriptions of people and places are vivid, making this a wonderful resource for teaching. It will have a broad appeal in many disciplines, and any reader interested in new technologies will find surprises here.
Annenberg Center for Communication Mimi Ito

The Cell Phone opens up a vital new space of inquiry for mobile society research, demanding that we attend to the diversity in uptake of a new communications technology. Through richly textured ethnographic detail, this book tells the story of how the cell phone has come to play a critical and transformative role in the lives of low income Jamaicans. In the process, the meaning of the technology and our understanding of it is also transformed.
Lancaster University Lucy Suchman

What kind of an object does the cell phone become in the hands of low income Jamaicans? In this insightful study, Horst and Miller explore what it means when the phone's leading attribute is less its mobility, or the mobility that it enables, than the possibility of intensifying connections already in play. Conjoining close place-based ethnography with broad historical, political and economic contextualizations, this book further challenges simple stories of a technology's 'global impacts.
Choice A. Arno

In this brilliant account of cell phone use among low-income people in Jamaica, anthropologists Horst and Miller demonstrate the critically important contributions that anthropology can make the communication studies…indispensable reading for the anthropology of communication and the anthropology of policy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781845204006
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date:
10/31/2006
Edition description:
ANN
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.56(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Heather A. Horst is Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for New Media, University of California Berkeley. Daniel Miller teaches in the Department of Anthropology, University College London.

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